Black ‘Cat’ to prowl on Broadway

Debbie Allen will direct Williams revival

The all-black revival of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” has staked out its Rialto real estate: New production of Tennessee Williams’ 1955 play is set to begin previews at the Broadhurst Theater on Feb. 12 ahead of a March 6 opening.

Capitalized at $2.8 million, the show, about the tempestuous family gathering of a wealthy Southern clan, will be helmed by Debbie Allen. Setting is updated to contemporary times.

Project has been kicking around for more than 10 years, with an original potential package that had Lloyd Richards (who died last year) directing Angela Bassett and James Earl Jones. That version was scuttled due to creatives’ other commitments, according to producer Stephen Byrd.

More recently, the long-gestating “Cat” stirred up bad press this spring when another attached helmer, Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun”), pulled out. Thesp names batted around at the time included Forest Whitaker, Phylicia Rashad (who is Allen’s sister), Anthony Mackie and Audra McDonald.

Cast for the spring run has not yet been confirmed.

Byrd, the head of a private equity company (and legit tyro) who has stuck with the project from the start, has been encouraged by the recent success of “The Color Purple” in attracting black auds.

“You have a crossover demographic now that’s not afraid to venture to Broadway,” he said.

“Cat” will be the first Broadway directing credit for performer-choreographer Allen (“Fame”), a frequent TV helmer (“Everybody Hates Chris,” “Life Is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story”). Allen’s Rialto resume includes performances in “Raisin” (1973) and “Sweet Charity” (1986); she also choreographed the short-lived 1988 tuner “Carrie.”

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